Go Big Or Go Home*: The 2015 F1 Night Race Trip Diary.

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(*50 Shades of Red was the alternate title for this post, but I realized that not everyone will be able to appreciate the humor in that, so…)

The year 2012 was the last time I attended the F1 Night Race in Singapore, so to say I was excited to be back would be a major understatement.

Actually, I have Kimi Raikkonen to blame/thank for all of this. Why? See, I initially thought 2015 would be Kimi’s last year in Formula One, what with all the “not-so-good luck” and uncertainties surrounding him. I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself if I didn’t go see him race live in Ferrari colors again, and so I bit the bullet and booked the flights and race tickets (as well as convinced 2 of my non-F1 supporter childhood friends to come with me to Singapore) as early as February 2015.

Now if you are a regular reader of this blog, you already know that this is a lengthy post. I like to include most—if not all—of the inane details because it just wouldn’t be me if this was in any way abridged. If you’re new, a warm welcome and prepare yourself for quite a ride (pun very much intended):

Friday, 18 September: Just DO It!

Unlike my previous GP trips, I had to delay my arrival in Singapore this year because September 17 is my Mom’s birthday, and it goes without saying that I had to be present at the family celebrations (Daughter of the Year right here!). As a result, I had to miss a lot of the PR events attended by the drivers, most notably Kimi Raikkonen’s UPS Event outside Raffles City Mall that Thursday, but it wasn’t such a big deal for me because…I had a plan.

I was brimming with too much excitement to even attempt to get some sleep, and I’ve always been an insomniac anyway, so after having breakfast at midnight at home, I went straight to the airport and was checked-in at 03:00 for my 05:40 flight. The most curious thing that happened during my flight was that my expensive, precision timepiece suddenly stopped working just as the plane took off. I stared at it incredulously, shook and prodded it, to no avail. I’ve worn that wristwatch for all of the GPs I’ve attended and this was the first time it failed me! And why am I telling you this? The brand of the watch is actually a major sponsor of a huge F1 team, one that is currently struggling. Oh, the irony. Moral of the story: Bring an extra wristwatch if you’re a stickler for time like me.

I arrived at Singapore around 09:00, breezed through passport control, collected my luggage and paused to exchange currencies and to buy a local SIM card for my internet needs. I was supposed to contact my Airbnb host through Viber upon my arrival, but for some reason, the internet just wouldn’t work on my mobile phone! I tried to send an SMS through my other mobile phone but my international roaming service (which I activated the day before) was not working, either. Man, the effects of Mercury Retrograde were already pummeling me. I spent nearly an hour and a half trying to get the internet to work with the assistance of the foreign exchange shop personnel, and by the time it finally worked I was so exhausted I just wanted to pass out (and maybe eat).

All those tech glitches were forgotten by the time I stepped out of the airport and took a taxi. It finally hit me that I was back in Singapore for the race weekend! I checked into our awesome Airbnb flat (I’m so happy my friends and I decided to try Airbnb for this trip. Seriously guys, check it out and save loads), unpacked a bit and decided to take a catnap (at that point, I’ve been awake for 24 hours straight). An hour later, I woke up and decided to head to Orchard Road to have a bite to eat and for a bit of shopping.

Curiously, there wasn’t much of a racing-related atmosphere when I got to Orchard Road. I was so used to seeing loads of F1-related shops and activities strewn along the area during the previous years so I was a bit disappointed at their absence this year. Perhaps they were moved to a different part of the city? I had little time to contemplate and immediately deployed Shopping Mode instead.

However, I got a bit carried away (I blame Sephora and the Kinokuniya bookstore!) and before I knew it, it was already 5pm and I haven’t claimed my race tickets yet, let alone eaten properly! I considered bringing along my shopping bags with me to the track but ultimately decided against it because they were too heavy, so I had to make a quick pit stop to our flat before I can get my race tickets. Argh. Free Practice 1 starts at 6pm and I’m still in an Orchard Road bus stop at 5:15pm. The clock is ticking!

When I finally got to Swissotel Stamford, the race ticket collection center, I had another reality check: The queue for ticket collection was massive! Apparently, other race fans had too much of the TGIF spirit in them and waited until the last minute to collect their tickets, too. I could only sigh in resignation as I fell in line and waited for my turn. My only consolation was that without my wristwatch, I couldn’t tell how much of FP1 I was already missing. Oh, and I saw a Rob Smedley doppelganger. Silver linings and all…

So I’m following the map that leads to you…

So I’m following the map that leads to you…

At last, I got my race tickets! I then barreled outside and hurried my way towards Gate 3, but not without a mini pause outside to thank the racing gods for bringing me here safely after a 2-year hiatus. I am back, baby!

Premier Walkabout Tickets yet again! The best bargain for someone like me who doesn’t like sitting still for long periods of time.

Premier Walkabout Tickets yet again! The best bargain for someone like me who doesn’t like sitting still for long periods of time.

Reporting for duty after a 2-year hiatus!

Reporting for duty after a 2-year hiatus!

Friday Ticket

Finally inside the track!

Unfortunately, as soon as I stepped inside the track, I heard the Practice Session got red-flagged due to an incident. Not even that could dampen my spirits as I immediately headed to the merchandise stalls, got myself Vettel and Raikkonen Ferrari caps, busied myself taking in the sights and sounds all around me and perused the circuit map, trying to formulate my plan of attack for FP2.

So expensive…but so sexily scarlet!

So expensive…but so sexily scarlet!

Fri F1 Merch Stall

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A stall selling headphones with live commentary.

A stall selling headphones with live commentary.

Wayfinding made easier.

Wayfinding made easier.

The Porsche Carrera Cars took the track just after F1 FP1.

The Porsche Carrera Cars took the track just after F1 FP1.

My friend HM, who arrived in Singapore around 18:00, was supposed to meet me for dinner at Raffles City, but she got a bit lost on the way to our Airbnb flat so we had to cancel our dinner plans. I have not had anything except water and a couple of crackers at that point, and the queues at the food stalls I passed were quite long, so I just decided to make the trek to Zones 2 and 1 early so I can check out the views before FP2 started.

One of my favorite “chill spots” inside the track is the area around the Singapore Flyer, and that’s where I ended up just before FP2, resting my tired legs and eating a small cup of gelato as my first “meal” of the day. Reasonably energized, as soon as FP2 started, I was ready to go.

Once I heard the sound of the V6 engine in person, I have to admit that it gave me goosebumps. Of course, it doesn’t have a patch on the roar of the V8 engines, but if you’re a legitimate racing fan, then certain engine sounds will always get to you. I found it half-amusing and half-disappointing that I really didn’t need to wear earplugs anymore while watching FP2 (don’t imitate Aunt Marj kids, her eardrums have been hardened by time already), but hey, that issue has already been flogged to death so I’ll let it go.

FP2 from the viewing platform opposite the T21 straight.

FP2 from the viewing platform opposite the T21 straight.

FP2 from the viewing platform with free seating reserved for Premier Walkabout Ticket holders opposite the T21 straight, with a widescreen TV.

FP2 from the viewing platform with free seating reserved for Premier Walkabout Ticket holders opposite the T21 straight, with a widescreen TV.

FP2 from the viewing area near the pit entry.

FP2 from the viewing area near the pit entry.

FP2 from the viewing platform opposite the T23 straight, in front of the Pit Building. The fellas were looking the other way because there’s a widescreen TV behind the platform.

FP2 from the viewing platform opposite the T23 straight, in front of the Pit Building. The fellas were looking the other way because there’s a widescreen TV behind the platform.

I hopped around different viewing spots and finally got around to reaching the viewing platforms just in front of the pit exit. What is incredibly cool about that area is that it allows the fans to see the cars really close as they zoom down the straight, and with the cars emanating sparks at that area, the spectacle just gets better! I almost felt like I was going to get hit on the face with sparks at certain points—luckily, it didn’t happen but if I had to take one for the team, then so be it!

Also, I finally got to see the drivers do practice starts—which was strangely mesmerizing. I had to constantly remind myself to keep my mouth closed lest I look like a crazed fan while ogling the cars just mere meters in front of me.

Hello, Kimi!

Hello, Kimi!

Hello, Seb!

Hello, Seb!

When FP2 ended, I again decided to get something to eat, but the food stalls I passed just didn’t pique my interest, so I decided to go back to the Singapore Flyer area and just get food from there. Imagine my shock and trepidation when I reached that area and found that all the food stalls were already closed! Worse, I checked my water bottle and saw that I was down to my last 3 inches of water. And I’m still planning to stay inside the track for at least a couple of hours. No bueno.

Dejectedly, I slumped down on one of the benches in the deserted food court and carefully rationed my water to avoid dehydration. I considered going to the Zone 4 Padang Stage to catch Pharell’s concert and get some nourishment there, but my internal battery was already running low so I decided to stay put and recharge. When midnight hit, I finally stood up and went to the area outside the Paddock Entrance, saying a silent prayer to the racing gods to make the wait for the drivers quick and painless.

Surprisingly, there were only a small number of fans gathered outside the Paddock Entrance, most of them Japanese fans. I settled in a spot just behind a white plastic barrier, chatted a bit with an Australian girl (who’s a Ricciardo fan) and tried to talk to a couple of Japanese Toro Rosso fangirls but we just ended up smiling at each other a lot due to the language barrier.

So without further ado, here’s the rundown of who I saw/met during my Friday Paddock Vigil:

(Sidebar: I know that selfies are the new autographs for this generation, but I’m old school and I hate taking selfies so I stuck with a good old notebook and a Sharpie pen for autographs.)

Making good use of this cool mini notebook! This is part of the goody bag I got from Singapore GP when I won one of their pre-race social media competitions.

Making good use of this cool mini notebook! This is part of the goody bag I got from Singapore GP when I won one of their pre-race social media competitions.

First notable person out was 1997 WDC and now Formula E driver Jacques Villeneuve. Amusingly, he was “blanked” by the fans and was allowed to walk away freely. To be fair though, he was busy talking on his mobile phone and barely looked at us.

Claire Williams and Susie Wolff: Super nice ladies who took the time to sign everything and took selfies with whoever requested for it. Gamely chatted with the fans, too. And yes, they are both very pretty in person.

Claire Williams.

Claire Williams.

SigCWilliams

Susie Wolff

Susie Wolff

SigSWolff

Martin Brundle, David Coulthard and Eddie Jordan: The three came out together and even though Jordan and Coulthard didn’t look to be in the mood to interact with fans, they got into it anyway when Brundle stopped to take selfies and sign autographs. Brundle was the nicest and most interactive.

Brundle

Brundle

SigMBrundle

I thought I got a better (and closer) pic of DC, but I apparently I didn’t. Oops.

I thought I got a better (and closer) pic of DC, but I apparently I didn’t. Oops.

SigDCoulthard

Eddie Jordan wearing a non-colorful shirt?!

Eddie Jordan wearing a non-colorful shirt?!

SigEJordan

Toto Wolff: The ladies shrieked like schoolgirls when they saw him, I kid you not. It was hilarious, but totally understandable, because Toto does look quite dashing in person. He accommodated everyone’s request, and after he signed for me and said “You’re welcome” to my “Thank you”, I had to fight giggles because I so badly wanted to ask him, “Can you please say ‘I’ll be back’?”

Paddock Wolff

SigTWolff

Will Buxton: For someone I haven’t seen before in person, I immediately recognized this, er…very polarizing (at least for F1 fans on Twitter) journalist. I was a bit disappointed that he wasn’t wearing colorful trousers. He chatted with a group of Japanese fans about gifts and snacks and moon cakes that they apparently give him on a regular basis.

Animatedly discussing food (among other things) with fans.

Animatedly discussing food (among other things) with fans.

Karun Chandhok: Didn’t say much, signed and took selfies with whoever requested for them.

Paddock Chandhok

SigKChandhok

Just when I decided to take the tiniest sips of water, out came Kimi Matias Raikkonen. In the wheel of his usual golf cart. Naturally all the fans screamed, “KIMIIIIII!!!!” as he zoomed out. I didn’t even get to take a photo of him as I suddenly froze and just stared at his face (yeah, still gorgeous). Actually, I vaguely remember yelling “HI, KIMI!” to him as he passed by. He did raise his hand, waved and (Kimi-)smiled at us before his very speedy exit. Sigh. Always leaving us wanting more. Damn you, Kimi.

Esteban Gutierrez: He looks younger in person. Quite smiley. Chatted with fans a bit longer, considering that most of us gathered there were clear Ferrari fans. We spoke in Spanish, mainly “Por favor/Gracias” (Me) and “De nada.” (Him).

Paddock Guti

SigEGuti

Eric Boullier: Initially reluctant to approach the fans but got convinced by all the “Eric!! Please?” requests that he heard. Left quickly.

Paddock Boullier

SigEBoullier

James Allen: The Australian guy next to me mistook him for another journalist Tom Clarkson, but before I got the chance to correct him he was already in our area and was taking selfies with the Aussie guys. He even chatted with them about Ferrari engines and F1 gossip. I wanted to tell him, “Hey, you once followed me on Twitter!”

Paddock Allen

Mark Arnall: Kimi Raikkonen’s long-time personal trainer and friend, for those who don’t know him. I can’t recall if he was with Kimi in the golf cart earlier and he just came back to the paddock again or whether that was a completely different guy with Kimi in the cart. Anyway, he was super nice to the Ferrari fans and promised to pass on all the good luck wishes of the fans to the Iceman himself.

Paddock Arnall

Romain Grosjean: I saw him last time in 2012 but didn’t get the chance to get his autograph. This year, he wasn’t in a hurry and seemed to be in a better mood, signing everything and completing all selfie requests.

Paddock Grosjean

SigRGro

Maurizio Arrivabene: Part Two of ladies (And yes, even gentlemen) shrieking unabashedly when they saw him. He cuts a distinguished (don’t-mess-with-This-Boss) air in person. He looks quite scary and intimidating but signed everything and took selfies with everyone. When it came my turn, I held my notebook out to him, he took my pen, stared at me (Why?! What did I do?! –my paranoid side was screaming in my head), slowly took my notebook from my hands, laid it on top of the barrier, signed it, stared at me again, and returned my things. For a few moments there, I seriously thought he was going to scold me/yell at me for some unknown reason. It was a miracle I managed a “Thank you.” He stared at me again and said, “Welcome” before walking away. I only realized I was holding my breath the entire time when he has gone. That man sure knows how to make his presence felt!

Paddock Arrivabene

SigMArrivabene

Britta Roeske: A group of Ferrari fans called out to her for autographs and photos, but it’s clear Sebastian Vettel’s PR maven has her feet firmly on the ground as she shyly replied, “But I’m not a celebrity! Sebastian will sign everything, don’t worry!” before saying goodbye to all.

Paddock Britta

Christian Horner: Wasn’t very chatty, bordering on formal, even. Still, he signed everything and gamely took selfies. I had to bite my tongue and not go, “Please say hi to Ginger Spice for me. Girl Power!!”

Paddock Horner

SigCHorner

Will Stevens: Took a few selfies, signed some stuff and bypassed the rest.

Paddock Stevens

Lewis Hamilton: He was going to take a car out of the paddock. Some fans spotted him exiting so they all ran towards him and surrounded him. He finished signing and taking selfies before getting into his ride (a Mercedes, of course).

Paddock Hamilton

There’s Lewis in the middle, surrounded by fans.

Pastor Maldonado: Seemed in good spirits. Took a few selfies, signed a few things and bypassed the rest.

Paddock Maldonado

Fernando Alonso: Surprisingly interacted with zero fans. Fans went berserk when they saw him exiting briskly on foot, but as soon as he heard the commotion, he took out his mobile phone, “made a call” and went, “No, no, NO!” at fans who hounded him in hopes of getting selfies and autographs. Disappointing.

Max Verstappen: He looks even younger in person. When I was getting his autograph, I had to fight the urge to giggle because I cannot believe I’m getting the signature of this 17-year old kid who’s not even a boyband member but is a bona fide racing driver. Not very smiley.

Paddock Verstappen

SigMVerstappen

Valtteri Bottas: Didn’t say much initially but signed everyone’s things and took selfies patiently. Funny thing: Australian Guy Number 1 asked Bottas whether he thinks his friend (Australian Guy Number 2, who was standing beside him) looks like him. Bottas stared at the friend, smiled and said, “A little bit.” They could be brothers, really, except that Aussie Guy No.2 happens to be a foot taller than Bottas.

Paddock Bottas

SigVBottas

Bottas signed my notebook upside down. Haha.

Felipe Massa: Exited the paddock on foot and headed straight to a car waiting for him. He stopped though when the fans ran towards him and gamely signed and posed for photos. I asked a fellow fan when she came back, “Is Rob Smedley with him?!” Alas, he wasn’t.

Carlos Sainz: Interacted with the fans well. The object of affection of the Japanese girls beside me (with their Toro Rosso and Sainz banners) so he spent most of his time with them.

Part 2 of “I thought I had a better pic of him, but apparently I didn’t. Oops.”

Part 2 of “I thought I had a better pic of him, but apparently I didn’t. Oops.”

SigCSainz

Nico Hulkenberg: There was a bit of a lull after Sainz, so when Hulkenberg came out, you can just imagine how much the ladies shrieked again. I can’t blame them though, even my sleepy self was awakened at the sight of him because he looks so darn good in person. He was in high spirits, and it took quite a while for him to get to our area because nearly everyone ahead took multiple selfies/photos with him. By the time he reached me, he was still bantering with some of the fans, and when I thanked him, he wiggled his eyebrows at me and went, “Good luck!!” Um. Wait, what? Before I could reply, other Japanese fans had dragged him away for photos, so I was left wondering, “What the hell was that good luck all about?!”

Paddock Hulkenberg

SigNHulk

Nico Rosberg: The award for “best interaction with fans” goes to this driver, hands down. He not only signed all the stuff and took multiple selfies and photos, he also gave hugs to whichever fan requested for them and took his time to converse with fans. When he was signing for me, I noticed he kept looking at my right wrist (where I wear several bracelets), and even bent down to have a closer look at it after I took my pen back. He finally asked me, “Is that the one?” and thankfully, my brain quickly pieced together things and realized that he was asking whether I was one of the lucky fans he gave a Thomas Sabo bracelet to the day before in an event (he was apparently referring to my pink crystal bracelet). I replied, “Oh no, it’s not.” He laughed and said, “Yeah, it’s not. Sorry.” After that, he stayed for a while to chat with two massive Rosberg fans beside me who were practically melting with sheer joy.

Paddock Rosberg1

Paddock Rosberg2

Nico pausing to chat with a couple of his superfans. Wait, does that mean I’m in the background of the pic his assistant/companion took right there?!

SigNRosberg

Marcus Ericsson: Not too chatty, but nice to the fans. Gave me a smile when I wished him good luck. He should smile more often.

Paddock Ericsson

SigMEricsson

Felipe Nasr: He looked a bit tired but brightened up at the warm reception of fans. Took his time signing and taking photos.

Paddock Nasr

SigFNasr

Sergio Perez: Mr. Perfect Teeth in the flesh again. He’s still as smiley and warm to the fans as ever.

Paddock Perez

SigSPerez

Sidebar: Stoffel Vandoorne and Alexander Rossi were also both stunners in person. Yeah, I said it. Perhaps we ladies should hold score cards from 1-10 and rate the drivers as they exit. Just kidding! Also, I’m still amazed at how…vertically-challenged most people in F1 are. I’m of average height myself, and for the longest time, I had this perception that most of them are taller than they actually are (barring some exceptions like Hulk, DC, Arrivabene). Anyway, this isn’t a diss, just an observation, much like TV makes people look older because they all look so much younger in person.

And so 03:00 has come and gone and a certain Sebastian Vettel of Scuderia Ferrari was still MIA. At that point, I was operating on only an hour’s worth of sleep and the last “meal” I had (a cup of gelato) was more than 6 hours ago. Have I mentioned that my water supply’s nearly gone? Some fans have given up and left, and I seriously contemplated following suit. But I’m not a quitter, and I reminded myself that my main objective for that day was meeting Vettel again, so I just have to suck it up and deal with the wait. I sat on the ground, stretched my legs, checked Twitter for a bit, people-watched to pass the time. Still no Seb. I looked up, stared at the Flyer, imagined the refreshing shower, bed and unlimited drinking water waiting for me back at homebase. The Australian guys were already lying down on the makeshift platform next to me, and I had to hand it to them because while my body clock was on the same time zone as Singapore, theirs were on +3hrs, so technically it was already past 06:00 for them! I stood up and decided to make small talk with a Chinese girl next to me, who took the place of the Japanese Toro Rosso girls who already left. She asked me who I was still waiting for and when I said Vettel, she brightened up and said we’re on the same boat. We chatted a bit about Kimi and Ferrari, and I made her laugh by joking that I’m willing to sleep in the area just to wait for Vettel and by occasionally (half-jokingly) yelling, “Seb!!! Where are you?!!!” in the direction of the paddock exit. Still no Seb. “We can do this!”, I assured my new comrade. “Stay with me, okay?”

Timecheck: 04:00. Finally, after what seemed like several eternities in purgatory, we heard a commotion at the front of the queue, and I asked the much taller (and now fully awake and vertical) Australian guys, “Who is it? Is it Seb?!” and one of them replied, “Yes, Seb’s one of them!” Turns out Sebastian Vettel came out with the two Red Bull drivers, Daniel Ricciardo and Danill Kvyat.

I didn’t even get to take proper photos of Ricciardo and Kvyat, as I was focused on monitoring Vettel’s movements. He signed things and took selfies wih a lot of the fans at the front of the queue, and I thought, surely Seb will finish the whole queue, right?

This horrible pic of Daniel Ricciardo is proof that I was too busy monitoring Vettel’s movements to even check the focus on my camera!

This horrible pic of Daniel Ricciardo is proof that I was too busy monitoring Vettel’s movements to even check the focus on my camera!

But then, as Seb got to the middle part, he suddenly walked faster and went, “Bye, guys!” Oh, hell no. You are not leaving without signing for me! Luckily, the leftover fans spilled over the barrier and swarmed Seb, blocking his way, so he stayed and patiently signed the things handed to him. I don’t even clearly remember hopping over the barrier, but I do remember suddenly standing in front of him, asking him to sign my race ticket (forget the notebook, he gets the honor of signing my ticket!). I thanked him, got an, “Okay” and moved away to give the other fans access to him. That commotion allowed the Red Bull drivers to make their quick exits, but some lucky fans still got their signatures and selfies through sheer persistence.

Vettel’s signature! Mission: Accomplished!

Vettel’s signature! Mission: Accomplished!

With Vettel finally completing my wishlist, my adrenaline level promptly came crashing down, and it was high time for me to finally leave the track. I bade a quick farewell to my Chinese friend (I never got to ask her name, silly me!), asked a security personnel to direct me to the nearest exit, and off I went.

After a couple of idiotic attempts at navigating my way out (Note: Do not Instagram while doing so), and several minutes of frantic arm-waving to taxis, I was at last on the way back to homebase. Amusingly, my driver kept me awake by chatting to me about F1 (or rather, his lack of knowledge of it), and even threw some pick-up lines at me (Who even attempts to flirt at past 4 am?). Before I alighted, I urged him to give F1 a try and to pray for a Vettel or Raikkonen Ferrari win on Sunday. One more prayer couldn’t hurt, right?

(During the taxi ride, I suddenly realized that Jenson Button hasn’t come out yet by the time most of us fans left. I originally wanted to get a couple of his signatures as 2 of my friends have crushes on him, but really, I’ve already pushed my body to its limit for the day, so…sorry, girls! Maybe next time!)

I got back at our Airbnb flat at around 4:40am, immeasurably exhausted, hungry and dehydrated, but still smiling at the sheer madness of my day. I stripped out of my sticky clothes, showered, downed a bottle of water and properly passed out in bed at 6:00am. Until tomorrow/later, F1 circus.

My pedometer reading. That’s the number of steps I took for the entire day.

My pedometer reading. That’s the number of steps I took for the entire day.

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Saturday, 19 September: Taking It Easy(ish).

With the “Paddock Vigil” officially crossed out of my To Do List, I promised myself I’d take it easy for Saturday. My friend and I woke up late, left the flat at mid-afternoon and went to Orchard Road for a super late lunch and a bit of shopping (I finally got a new wristwatch. Yay!). At half past 5, I bade her farewell and went to the track, not wanting to be late for FP3 this time around. The former Gate 7 that I so often used in the past had been turned into Gate 8, and that was the entrance I used for the day. I loitered around Zone 4 for a bit, saying “hello” to my beloved Turn 14, before deciding to make the early trek towards Zones 2 and 1 in preparation for Qualifying. I made a pit stop at Zone 3 and watched the latter part of FP3 via a super clear widescreen. The Ferraris looked strong and the Mercedes cars looked off-pace. Say what? I was almost scared to hope but what have I got to lose? Anyway, post-FP3, I snooped around the Simulator Challenge (the queue was massive so I didn’t get to try it), had my photo taken at the mini podium, and ogled the promo personnel dressed in fancy F1-related garb. I was so coveting their F1 WDC Umbrellas like you wouldn’t believe!

Sat Gate 8

FP3 from the viewing platform opposite Turn 14.

FP3 from the viewing platform opposite Turn 14.

FP3 from the viewing area opposite the Turn 14 straight.

FP3 from the viewing area opposite the Turn 14 straight.

The viewing platforms overlooking the Turn 14 Straight.

The viewing platforms overlooking the Turn 14 Straight.

FP3 from the viewing area just before Turn 15

FP3 from the viewing area just before Turn 15

Check this guy out channeling his inner Ferrari driver.

Check this guy out channeling his inner Ferrari driver.

Now that’s what I call a couple dressed to the nines!

Now that’s what I call a couple dressed to the nines!

Umbrella 2

Dear Singapore GP, please produce this umbrella as part of your official merchandise next year because I am SO buying one!

During the lull in between FP3 and Qualifying, I found myself taking refuge in the Greek Theatre near the Singapore Flyer yet again, with a cup of gelato as my “dinner”. I considered getting into the Singapore Flyer, but it wasn’t free of charge to racegoers anymore, and without any cars at the track, I wouldn’t have enjoyed the ride as much. That break also turned into a “Meet your Twitter friends portion” of the night, as I finally got to meet Peiyi (@fanpeiyi), a Singaporean native, massive RBR fan and a Race Marshal that weekend, as well as Vicky (@F1_Obsessive) and Dom (@domcovkid), a British couple who’s also first-time Night Race attendees. Follow them on Twitter, they’re awesome!

The Singapore Flyer and the (tensile roof) of the Greek Theatre. My hangouts!

The Singapore Flyer and the (tensile roof) of the Greek Theatre. My hangouts!

Chilling before QLF.

Chilling before QLF.

Counting down the minutes before QLF with my snazzy (and cheap!) new wristwatch.

Counting down the minutes before QLF with my snazzy (and cheap!) new wristwatch.

I spent Q1 chatting with the couple and watching the action from the viewing platform in front of the T21 straight. After Q1, I bade them goodbye so I can further check out the other available viewing platforms in Zones 2 and 1 that I haven’t gotten around to yet. Surprisingly, the Ferraris remained dominant, and near the dying minutes of Q3 I chose to stay in a Zone 1 viewing platform near a widescreen to get a better view of just how the Top 10 will line up. As soon as all the lap times were locked in and it was announced that the top 3 were Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen, I let out a huge “Yesss!!!!”, along with numerous other Ferrari fans in my area who also shouted, “Forza Ferrari!!” in celebration of that much-coveted pole (and 3rd place). I watched the post-Qualifying press conference and then suddenly remembered, I have a Maroon 5 concert to watch!

Q1 from the viewing platform opposite the T21 straight.

Q1 from the viewing platform opposite the T21 straight.

Spotted: Massive Kimi Raikkonen Banner. Now that’s what I call SUPPORT!

Spotted: Massive Kimi Raikkonen Banner. Now that’s what I call SUPPORT!

Q2 from the viewing platform opposite Turn 21.

Q2 from the viewing platform opposite Turn 21.

The dying minutes of Q3. I was too anxious to find out the results so I stayed near a widescreen TV!

The dying minutes of Q3. I was too anxious to find out the results so I stayed near a widescreen TV!

Forza Ferrari! Behave tomorrow, my Scarlet Boys!

Forza Ferrari! Behave tomorrow, my Scarlet Boys!

Reunited with Maroon 5!!

Reunited with Maroon 5!!

Funnily enough, the last time I saw Maroon 5 live was when they performed at the Padang Stage at the 2012 Night Race, so there was a bit of a déjà vu element to it. As usual, the lads rocked it and I sang along to most of the songs they performed—who cares if I was by myself?! Near the end of the concert, I received a text message from another friend of mine HK, that she already arrived in Singapore and that she and our other friend HM would meet me in Mustafa Centre post-concert. Never one to turn down an opportunity to shop, I headed straight to the only 24hr shopping centre in Singapore and had a grand time telling my friends about my adventures so far, and shopping, of course.

We ended up going home at around 4:00 am. So much for taking it easy for the day!

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Sunday, 20 September: I Don’t Want This Day To End!

Raceday!

For the first time ever, I had serious, legitimate pre-race nerves. Forget butterflies, I felt like I had rats in my stomach when my thoughts turned to the race. Why? Well, this was the first time that I fully felt emotionally-invested in the race result, with the Ferrari 1-3 in Qualifying the night before. With the previous Night Races I’ve attended, I’ve seen a couple of Ferrari podiums, but let’s be real, I’m not a massive fan of Fernando Alonso so they didn’t really fully hit me in the heart. My desire to see Vettel and Raikkonen in the podium for this race was so intense that it almost hurt.

However, I’m getting ahead of myself.

My friends and I went to meet our childhood friend J, her husband A and our godsons for some late lunch in Somerset. For a couple of hours, I shoved raceday to the back of my mind and just enjoyed the good food and company. However, as 5pm approached, the nerves kicked in real hard. I bade goodbye to my friends and went to the track early to scout for a good spot for the Drivers’ Parade.

Actually, who was I kidding? I knew in my heart that I would return to the same spot I stayed in last 2012, that certain viewing platform just opposite T21. To my delight, I found it sparsely-populated, as usual. Sadly, I read on Twitter that unlike the previous years, the drivers would not be riding individual vintage cars and they would all be lumped in one truck, making the parade shorter than usual. Oh, boo. During the wait, I considered making an impromptu sign to show to the drivers, something along the lines of “Wave If You’re Gonna Win”, or “Wave To Me, Damnit!” Unfortunately, I only have my collapsible fan with me and I wasn’t sure whether the drivers would even get to read it, so I scrapped that idea. Remind me to bring a proper (witty) banner next time, please.

Fast-forward to the parade and as the drivers made their way towards my area, most of them were facing the other way, and as my throat wasn’t up to screeching “Kimiiii!! Seb!!”, I stared at the back of Sebastian’s head and willed him to “Look at me!!”, and amazingly he did!

Ready for Raceday!

Ready for Raceday!

The appearance of the Safety Car means the Drivers’ Parade is about to begin!

The appearance of the Safety Car means the Drivers’ Parade is about to begin!

The drivers are coming!!

The drivers are coming!!

LOL at Rosberg’s face! I wonder what he saw that made him pull a face like that? Also, what was Grandpa Button discussing with the young drivers?

LOL at Rosberg’s face! I wonder what he saw that made him pull a face like that? Also, what was Grandpa Button discussing with the young drivers?

Part 2 of Rosberg pulling a hilarious face. Wonder what Hulk said to him? And hey, Bottas was looking at my camera!

Part 2 of Rosberg pulling a hilarious face. Wonder what Hulk said to him? And hey, Bottas was looking at my camera!

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Look at Vettel (and Nasr, but I only “mentally compelled” Seb to do so) totally looking at my camera! And was that Kimi looking at Seb while Seb was looking at me?!

Now, a new dilemma: Where to watch the Race Start? I moved around different viewing platforms in Zone 1 prior to the warm-up lap, but I didn’t really get the view I wanted, so I opted to return to the viewing platforms in Zone 2 near the Flyer so I can check out a widescreen as well.

Sneaky peek down pitlane

A sneaky peek down the pitlane.

The queue to leave the pitlane and to take their places at the starting grid!

The queue to leave the pitlane and to take their places at the starting grid!

Leaving Pitlane 2

The back of the grid. Preparations are underway!

The back of the grid. Preparations are underway!

Vettel and Ricciardo passing by the Viewing Platforms opposite the T21 straight during the warm-up lap.

Vettel and Ricciardo passing by the Viewing Platforms opposite the T21 straight during the warm-up lap.

For the first several laps, I moved around the different viewing platforms in Zones 1 and 2, and I was staying near a widescreen yet again when the collision between Massa and Hulkenberg happened. Now I like Hulkenberg as a driver, so I couldn’t help but yell “Nooooo!!!” when I saw him hit the tyre barrier and retire after that tussle.

I stayed in this area near the T21 straight because I needed to see the Ferraris make a clean start when the lights went out!

I stayed in this area near the T21 straight because I needed to see the Ferraris make a clean start when the lights went out!

Vettel during the first few laps, exiting T21.

Vettel during the first few laps, exiting T21.

Replay of the Hulkenberg-Massa collision that took Hulkenberg out of the race.

Replay of the Hulkenberg-Massa collision that took Hulkenberg out of the race.

After that Safety Card period ended and Vettel kept the lead, I thought the race would be pretty straightforward. But, plot twist! WDC leader and defending Champion Lewis Hamilton decided to retire his Mercedes after battling with car issues for most of the race. I internally whooped (for the sake of the WDC fight guys, chill) but didn’t want to be rude to his fans who audibly groaned in the viewing platform I was staying, so I kept my poker face and just willed the Ferrari boys to stay strong until the finish.

However, there was another plot twist to the race, and no, it wasn’t from any of the racing cars: There was a track invader! Most of us in the viewing platform literally went, “WTF?!” as soon as we heard the commentators announce it, and my stomach lurched with nerves again as the Safety Car came out for the second time and diminished Vettel’s lead from Ricciardo. I swore to myself that I would hunt down whoever invaded the track and smack him silly if his stupidity in any way lost Ferrari the win/podium places! Luckily, Vettel was able to make a clean getaway from Ricciardo post-SC period, and Kimi was also able to keep a safe distance and hold 3rd.

Look at how much tyre marbles are deposited at the track by the cars!

Look at how much tyre marbles are deposited at the track by the cars!

A few laps before the end of the race, I loitered near Turn 22-23, trying to figure out where the security personnel would open up the barriers to allow the fans to enter the track after the race (that was the same area they opened up when I last went in 2012). I called the attention of a marshal passing by and asked him, and he told me that the barrier to be opened would be somewhere along the viewing platforms near the Pit Exit. I started walking/running towards that area, but still couldn’t find a clue where the barrier would be. I paused outside one of the Pit Grandstands and asked an Usher the same question I asked the marshal earlier, and he told me another thing and that the barrier to be opened would be the one near Turn 23, where I originally was! At that point, there were only 3 more laps to go in the race, so he urged me to hurry and run, which I did. On my way back, I saw a couple clad in Ferrari gear running towards the same direction as me, and when we reached the area near Turn 22, I asked the girl whether they knew where the barriers would open and she said that they were hoping it would be the area we were in. With 1 more lap to go, I was highly doubtful we were in the right area, as there were little to no activity there and there wasn’t much of a buildup of fans either, so finally, I approached a policeman and asked him. Surprise, surprise, he corroborated the answer of the marshal! Moral of the story: Listen to the officials (no offense to the Ushers but the officials are more privy to those kinds of info)! By that time, the checquered flag was already waved but I had no time to process the results yet, as I literally ran as fast as my feet would take me to that darn area. When I finally reached it, there was already a thick buildup of fans awaiting the opening of the barriers, and I literally looked like I stood under a showerhead with all of my clothes on, panting like a wet, overexcited puppy. It was at that point that the race results finally sunk in, and the combination of sheer emotions, extreme physical exhaustion, hunger and dehydration descended upon me like a wall of bricks. I felt tears pricking on my eyelids, but before I could properly emote, security finally opened up the barrier. Time to invade the track for the podium ceremonies and RUN again!

I needed to make this graphic to best show you just how far I ran to see the podium ceremonies up close! (Click on the pic to enlarge).

I needed to make this graphic to best show you just how far I RAN to see the podium ceremonies up close! (Click on the pic to enlarge).

There wasn’t a part of my body that wasn’t screaming in pain, and I seriously felt close to fainting. Still, I willed myself to carry on: You cannot miss this podium! You can die later! GO GO GO! I ran-walked-ran and made my way to the podium. When I got there just in time to hear the German-Italian anthems, the gravity of everything crashed on me and despite myself, tears freely streamed down my face. Now I’m not usually such an emotional sap, but you have to understand that this was the first time I’ve seen a Ferrari driver stand on the top step of the F1 podium in person, and even though it wasn’t Kimi Raikkonen, I’m very happy that it was Baby Schumi himself, Sebastian Vettel. Add a Kimi Raikkonen podium finish to that, and I’m in Cloud Nine. Also, I couldn’t help but remember Michael Schumacher when I heard the German-Italian anthem combination, and how I wished he’s still part of the F1 circus so I could see just how proud of Vettel he is.

I must have looked such an emotional wreck because a guy besides me asked, “Are you okay, Miss?” in such a worried tone that I had to immediately assure him, “I’m okay, thanks. Sorry, I’m just SO happy!” He could only nod, fully understanding what I meant (I hope!). Thanks for the concern, man.

Vettel P1, Ricciardo P2, Raikkonen P3. Ferrari bossed this weekend. Forza!!

Vettel P1, Ricciardo P2, Raikkonen P3. Ferrari bossed this weekend. Forza!!

Eddie Jordan interviewing race winner Sebastian Vettel.

Eddie Jordan interviewing race winner Sebastian Vettel.

Eddie Jordan interviewing P2 Daniel Ricciardo. Notice how Vettel drank his champagne again!

Eddie Jordan interviewing P2 Daniel Ricciardo. Notice how Vettel drank his champagne again!

Eddie Jordan interviewing P3 Kimi Raikkonen. A guy behind me was droning on how they should just skip Kimi because he’s so dull, and I was so tempted to back up and step on his foot, but decided against it for the sake of good karma.

Eddie Jordan interviewing P3 Kimi Raikkonen. A guy behind me was droning on how they should just skip Kimi because he’s so dull, and I was so tempted to back up and step on his foot, but decided against it for the sake of good karma.

Eddie Jordan wrapping up the podium interviews.

Eddie Jordan wrapping up the podium interviews.

The Podium Finishers pose and wave for the last time. Best Podium I’ve seen in person!

The Podium Finishers pose and wave for the last time. Best Podium I’ve seen in person!

I barely heard the podium interview (conducted by the ever-polarising Eddie Jordan), as I was too focused on staring at the drivers and taking in everything. Before I knew it, the podium ceremonies were over, but I was still compelled to do one more thing: I zigzagged my way through my fellow racing fans until I found the Start-Finish Line, went down on my knees and kissed it.

Let it never be said that I don’t know how to give thanks in style.

Leaving my mark on the track! (Lipstick: MAC Opera)

Leaving my mark on the track! (Lipstick: MAC Opera)

A very rare selfie.

A very rare selfie.

I then slowly made my way back to Zone 4, picking up tire marbles along the way, and started reflecting on just how…poignantly astounding the race weekend has been. I’ve learned that I’m physically stronger than I give myself credit for; I’ve learned that if you don’t ask, you don’t get; I’ve learned that you may encounter glitches and roadblocks along the way but things will always work out in the end, and most important, I’ve learned that when the odds are stacked against you, that’s when you must have more than a little faith.

The Singapore GP Ushers say goodbye to the racegoers. Such a sweet gesture!

The Singapore GP Ushers say goodbye to the racegoers. Such a sweet gesture!

You’ve been more than good to me this year! How can I say goodbye and leave?!

You’ve been more than good to me this year! How can I say goodbye and leave?!

My pedometer reading post-raceday. Perhaps I should train for a marathon now?!

My pedometer reading post-raceday. Perhaps I should train for a marathon now?!

I paused outside Gate 3 before exiting and thought, “Thank you, Singapore. Thank you, racing gods.”

Because really, there is no other way for me to feel about this trip other than Grateful.

And would I do this all over again? Most definitely! I may look all serious and straight-laced, but when it comes to my passions, I go absolutely all out. Go big or go home. That’s what love (of F1) can do.

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P.S:

1. I wore at least one red article of clothing per day, not only because my favourite color is red but also as a sign of support for the Scuderia Ferrari drivers. Looked like the ritual worked!

2. With all the amount of walking/running/climbing stairs that I did, perhaps I really should invest in a good pair of running shoes to wear to future GPs.

3. Yeah, my photo-taking skills still leave a lot to be desired. I’m not comfortable using my mobile phone camera for high-speed objects, so I think it’s time I upgrade my digital camera.

4. I will update my A-Z Guide to Attending the Singapore GP soon. Stay tuned!

5. If you’re interested in attending this GP next year, then feel free to leave a message here or contact me on Twitter. Looking forward to hearing from you!

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Link Or It Didn’t Happen: Kimi Raikkonen 101.

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The biggest news this week is that our favourite chatty (not) Finn in Formula One has re-signed with his former team Scuderia Ferrari.

Then again, if you’re a proper F1 Fan, you already know that.

So how much do you really know Kimi Raikkonen? Well, you are about to find out.

Check this brilliant post on Tumblr. Just do it.

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Everything You Need To Know About Kimi Raikkonen

You’re welcome.

Project of the Day: My DIY “Lego” Lotus Kimi Raikkonen (And Some Rather Unexpected Cameos).

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The “Lego” versions of Ferrari Kimi Raikkonen and Mercedes GP Michael Schumacher have been two of the most popular posts on my blog, and this is actually quite a long-overdue project as I’ve received several requests for it a long time ago. So finally, I’m pleased to share with everyone the Lotus GP version of “Lego” Kimi Raikkonen:

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Looks like “Lego” Lotus Kimi doesn’t look too impressed with the Proposed 2014 Car showed to him…

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He doesn’t want to talk about it, though, so he went hiding behind a barrier…

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However, a certain F1 Legend managed to find him and corner him for a chat…”Lego” Mercedes GP Michael Schumacher!

SchAsksK1

SchAsksK2

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Before things get three shades of awkward, the “Lego” version of myself–let’s just call her “Lego” Bouncebackabilitrix–entered the scene to ask the 2 F1 Champions for some photos…

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“Lego” Schumi had to go, but luckily, “Lego” Kimi stayed for some small talk…

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MAsksK2

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Sneaky, sneaky “Lego” Kimi!

But wait, it didn’t end there, as a “ghost” from his past has somehow resurfaced and quizzed “Lego” Lotus Kimi for one last time on his F1 future…

LotusKFerrariK

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Silly season has officially gone into overdrive, ladies and gents!

Would you like to see me attempt to do more “Lego” F1 drivers? If so, which ones? Leave a comment below or contact me on Twitter!

*For further details on this crafting project, please check this post on my other blog, Marjitecture.

Ruthless Rants, Raves and Reflections: The Non-Standard Issue F1 2013 Preview.

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Every year, I make it a point to write an introductory post on the members of the F1 grid, but in a different and unexpected way. This year, I’m having a bit of a trouble completing it (don’t get me wrong, it’s still going to be bouncebackably awesome, I assure you), and I realized that what’s holding me back was the mixed bag of emotions that I’m harboring towards the upcoming season. I need to let it all out and lay my cards on the table before I can move on, and so this shall be the outlet for that.

I’m not an objective F1 fan. Just thought I’d put it out there. If you want a so-called objective, detailed and technical analyses on the new season, then you can move on. At least I’m not like a lot of legitimate journalists who claim objectivity and yet reek of bias like they’re doused with some class C-imitation perfume. Also, I will not make concrete predictions because I’m not a fortune-teller and I prefer to adopt the ‘Que sera, sera’ attitude this season. Will it work? Maybe not, but don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it.

Now let me get this out of the way: I am incredibly, unequivocally sad that my all-time favorite driver Michael Schumacher will not be racing this season, or…ever. It has been months since he has announced his retirement and yet, I’m still teetering on the ledge of denial. I suppose the finality of his decision will fully sink in on the first GP but for now, I am still wondering on whether I will be 100% emotionally-involved this season.

Before I digress any further, here’s my own brand of an F1 2013 preview:

Red Bull Racing:

Barring their annoying over-protectiveness with their car’s rear parts during winter testing, they still look quite strong and solid, and I reckon they will still be the favorites to win the Constructor’s title–that is, if they manage to avoid any cockfights between their drivers. The so-called “god of aero” Adrian Newey will still be the designer to beat. Sebastian Vettel seems to have matured significantly after winning his 3rd WDC, and if he can carry-over even half of the form he had in 2012 to this year, then his Australian teammate Webber will have a Herculean task of outperforming him. While some fans appreciate the standard “driver equality” PR drivel, we all know that the team’s golden-haired, blue-eyed boy really is Vettel. So better give 200% of what you’ve got, Webber, for this may be your last year with the team and you might as well give your potential future employers a good show.

Scuderia Ferrari:

I sometimes find it painful to write about this team mainly because while I still consider myself a fan, the truth is that I’m not 100% emotionally-involved in supporting them anymore. Having said that, I do like and admire Fernando Alonso’s racing moxie and I believe that he’ll still be Vettel’s biggest rival for the WDC yet again. His teammate Felipe Massa needs to realize how incredibly lucky he is to have kept his job for 2013, and he can start repaying the team by finally getting over his multi-year racing rut, stat. Sadly, Alonso is the clear numero uno and so Massa’s main task is to make sure that he maintains status quo and offer his…full cooperation. The fight for the Constructor’s title against Red Bull may be slightly closer this year, but it is interesting to note that the Scuderia has already enlisted the help of the legendary designer Rory Byrne in designing their 2014 contender. A sign of desperation or an advanced masterstroke? Time will tell.

McLaren:

For the first time in 5 years, they will not be The Lewis Hamilton Team, and for that, my sometimes-irrational dislike towards them has already significantly decreased. Sergio Perez from Sauber was confirmed as the new driver just days after Hamilton’s departure, and not a few eyebrows were raised. Will the Mexican be able to take the pressure of the highly-corporate world of McLaren? Can he fill the shoes of his predecessor? Will he even become a serious Championship contender? I have my doubts, but then again, his teammate Jenson Button is also notorious for needing a “perfect car” to achieve notable results, so in this regard, it will be fascinating to see how the dynamics between these two will play out. Also, will the team back Button more for the Championship by virtue of seniority, or will they solely depend on the results? At least for now their two drivers have already followed each other on Twitter, and that’s like, half the battle, isn’t it?

Mercedes GP:

Lewis Hamilton shockingly left his “racing home” McLaren to take up a staggering offer from Mercedes. The move left a bad taste in the mouths of some fans, especially since it was played out in the media that he was signed behind Michael Schumacher’s back, effectively pushing him out of the team and into permanent retirement. Some Macca fans called him a traitor, while some sadly surmised that he must have had enough of McLaren’s highly rigid rules and regulations. What ever the real story is, Lewis will be watched like a hawk this season, as he tries to prove that his risky move was the correct decision. And let us not forget that he will renew his “rivalry” with ex-GP2 teammate Nico Rosberg, who has been with the German outfit since 2010, and might just be the de facto team leader. This, in addition to the massive personnel restructuring that the team has undergone in the off-season, will make it very engaging to follow Mercedes, as the so-called “Three-Year Project” has come and gone and it is now the crucial sink-or-swim time for them.

Lotus GP:

2012 was a year of clear contrast between their 2 drivers: Romain Grosjean suffered several high-profile crashes and shunts which earned him a race ban and most certainly did not endear him from his fellow drivers, but he also notched podiums and significant points for the team. Then there’s Kimi Raikkonen, who was absent from the grid for 2 years but came back like he was never away—easily scoring points, podiums, a win and finishing every lap barring 1 throughout the whole season. It was almost too good to be true and my fear is that 2013 will see the Finn have some reliability issues with the car, and heaven forbid, a few retirements in the mix. Then again, that’s part and parcel of racing, and we must remember that he’s had his share of those even in his WDC-winning year at Ferrari, so we must not expect a carbon copy of his 2012 season. Raikkonen will definitely be up there in the Championship fight, it’s just a matter of having the car’s cooperation and sorting out his qualifying performances. As for Grosjean, I expect the Frenchman will be a tad “tamer” in his approach to racing, and I believe it will be possible for him to get a few podiums and maybe even his first win. It seems strange but the combination of the poker-faced Finn and ever-smiling Frenchman is working quite well, and I shan’t be surprised if the Enstone outfit does get the coveted-3rd place in the WDC for this year.

Scuderia Toro Rosso:

Strangely, I always seem to forget this team and their drivers whenever I make an F1-related list. It can’t be a good thing when I remember the likes of Marussia and Caterham better than Red Bull’s sister team, no? Perhaps it’s because post-Vettel era, the team has been on a steady plateau in midfield, and while their drivers Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo are more than half-decent and have shown traces of brilliance on-track last season, they badly need to step up their games and show that Toro Rosso is more than just a midfield contender. After all, this is a team that is not afraid to switch drivers mid-season—and with the talks that their two drivers are not “friends” anymore, this may turn out to be quite a turning point for the team.

Sauber:

This team that nurtured talents such as Raikkonen, Massa and Heidfeld is one of the very few teams in F1 that is difficult to dislike, but they confounded many by letting both their 2012 drivers go—Sergio Perez was released to go to McLaren and Kamui Kobayashi’s contract was not renewed. However, the signing of the alleged-Ferrari and Red Bull target Nico Hulkenberg from Force India signaled the team’s intent to improve on their 2012 performance, and might just be the most serendipitous move of the year. The German is joined by GP2 alumnus Esteban Gutierrez, a rookie who has the misfortune of squaring off with the on-form Hulkenberg and filling the shoes of his fellow Mexican Perez in the team.

P.S. Based on their numerous pre-season team engagements, the 2 drivers seem to be getting along swimmingly, and we all know that Sauber has a history of concocting unintentionally-hilarious PR stunts/events, so I personally cannot wait to see what they will make these two do over the course of the season.

Williams:

Pastor Maldonado may be scarily-unpredictable on-track, but the fact of the matter is that he gave Williams their first race win in ages last year and for that, he is now the clear leader of the team. I do not expect him to drastically change his driving/racing style, I reckon his win will have given him tons more motivation and let’s admit it, his crazy on-track reputation has got us all keeping our eyes on him during those frantic race starts, yes? Finally, 2012 test driver Valtteri Bottas will get the chance to prove if he really is worth the type and the famous Twitter hashtag as he takes over Bruno Senna’s seat for this year. I actually think his numerous FP stints in 2012 will greatly aid him and he just might become the best-performing rookie of 2013.

Force India:

They made us wait for eons on who will be their 2nd driver that by the time they did it, it became one big anticlimax. Well done. I have nothing against Adrian Sutil, he’s actually a decent and proven driver. If anything, I’m actually sort of pleased that he came back just so we can see how awkward his on- and off-track encounters with ex-friend Lewis Hamilton will be. As for Paul DiResta, well, he’d better find someone or something to light a match under his bum, or risk being outperformed yet again by a teammate. You won’t land your dream McLaren drive by getting whipped, boy. Overall, I have no strong feelings for this team but I do hope they get over the reported financial troubles and get to stay on in F1.

Caterham:

They not only changed the shade of green of their car’s livery, but they dropped both of their experienced 2012 drivers as well. Marussia’s 2012 rookie Charles Pic joined them and 2012 test driver and GP2 veteran Giedo van der Garde was promoted to a race seat. I honestly do not know what to expect from this team this year, as these two relatively-inexperienced drivers have the task of “defending” their team’s WCC 10th spot, which was delivered by their more- experienced drivers last year with practically sweat, tears and blood. I suppose what will be of most interest is how they will fare against their fellow backmarker team Marussia, especially since there is the element of the Giedo van der Garde vs Jules Bianchi rivalry in the mix.

Marussia:

Just when we thought Force India had the biggest pre-season cock up by massively delaying their 2nd driver announcement, Marussia went one step lower by making a last-minute driver switch. Brazilian Luiz Razia was hired and terminated within 23 days without even getting to test their 2013 car, all because of a sponsor of his that failed to hand over a payment. Shortest F1 career ever? Possibly. Ruthless and humiliating? Very. Razia was replaced by the 2012 Force India test driver and Ferrari Academy alumnus Jules Bianchi, which fuelled the rumors even more that Marussia will switch to Ferrari engines come 2014. And then of course there was the issue of them dropping Timo Glock to accommodate the so-called “pay drivers”, which incidentally includes their first confirmed 2013 driver Max Chilton, who did not win the approval of a lot of the hardcore F1 fans who believe that only his father’s money and not his talent got him the coveted seat. Meeoow.

As for the results of winter testing and what we can glean from them, the short of the long is that testing times mean absolutely sod all. So for those getting terribly excited about it, take a seat and help yourselves to a chill pill.

End of rants, raves and reflections.

The good news is that the Australian GP is only a few days away, and while we still won’t have a clear picture on where the teams and drivers stand after the race, it is historically-impossible for Melbourne to give us a dull GP weekend. Albert Park always delivers cracking, heart-in-your-throat, what-the-hell-was-that types of races, bless its cotton racing socks. So take a deep breath, and before you know it, the sheer madness of Formula One 2013 shall be upon us yet again. Ready? Let’s be honest, could we ever really be?

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Project of the Day: How To Make Your Own Kimi Raikkonen-Inspired Mobile Phone Charm and Bracelet.

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The off-season can be long and arduous for us hardcore racing fans. So what better way to take some of the edge off than to do some DIY racecraft (see what I did there)?

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DIY Kimi-inspired mobile phone charm.

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DIY Kimi-inspired charm bracelet/wristband, front view.

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DIY Kimi-inspired charm bracelet/wristband, rear view.

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For more information and instructions on this DIY crafting project, please visit my other blog, Marjitecture.

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P.S. Lotus GP will be the first team to unveil their 2013 car this Monday, January 28. Only a few more days to go and us starved F1 fanatics shall be given a scrumptious treat! Here’s hoping the Enstone-based team will start the upcoming series of 2013 Car Launches with nothing short of a bang!

Team Finland in F1 Presents: Suomi Boys.

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To celebrate the (hopefully-triumphant) return of 2007 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen in Formula One Racing, as well as his reunion with fellow Finn Heikki Kovalainen, here’s the unofficial anthem of the Finnish Racers for the 2012 F1season, to the tune of Katy Perry’s California Gurls:

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SUOMI BOYS

I know a place
Where the snow is really whiter
Cold, windy wild
There must be something in the water
Sippin’ G.H. Mumm
Layin’ underneath the pine trees
The girls, break their necks
Tryin’ to creep a little sneak peek (at us)

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You could travel the world
But nothing comes close to the Finnish coast
Once you party with us
You’ll be falling in love (oh, ohh, ohhh)

Su-o-omi Boys
We’re unforgettable!
When we race, we finish on top!
Golden hair, blue eyes
We’ll freeze your popsicles!

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Su-o-omi Boys
We’re undeniable
Fine, fresh, fierce
We got it on lock
Finland, represent
Now put your hands up!

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Speed’s what we preach
We don’t like talking on Team Radio
We chill in the pits
F1 Live Timing on the stereo

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You could travel the world
But nothing comes close to the Finnish coast
Once you party with us
You’ll be falling in love (oh, ohh, ohhh)

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Su-o-omi Boys
We’re unforgettable!
When we race, we finish on top!
Golden hair, blue eyes
We’ll freeze your popsicles!

.
Su-o-omi Boys
We’re undeniable
Fine, fresh, fierce
We got it on lock!
Finland, represent
Now put your hands up!

.

(Rapping part, to be done by a fangirl/fanboy, obviously. Go ahead and sing this, I know you want to.)

Toned, pale, fit and ready
Turn it up cos it’s getting heavy
Wild, cold Finnish coast
These are the boys we love the most
.

I mean the ones, I mean like they’re the men
Cheer them, stalk them, make them run
The fans all freak, every week
They wow with their techniques
.

I’m okay, I wanna play, I dig their way
Cos they drive risqué
Spa or Nurburgring
Raceday is everyday
.

Mad fans hanging out
Fast laps they’re churning out
They’re Kimis, they’re Mikas, they’re Heikkis
Just like magic racing genies

.

Yo whatsup Kimi?
Looky here, Heikki
We’re all up on ya
Cos you’re representin’ Finland…
.

 Su-o-omi Boys
We’re unforgettable!
When we race, we finish on top!
Golden hair, blue eyes
We’ll freeze your popsicles!

Su-o-omi Boys
We’re undeniable
Fine, fresh, fierce
We got it on lock
Finland, represent
Now put your hands up!

.

.

Who says these cold-blooded racers doesn't know how to let loose?